In the Long Run: Growth in Nonmetro Poverty Is Tied to Recessionary Increases in Unemployment

Historically, poverty grows during recessionary periods as a result of job losses, difficulty finding new work, and reductions in work hours or wages. This is evident in both nonmetro and metro poverty rates, which follow the same trends as unemployment over time. Likewise, the dramatic increase in unemployment during the 2007-09 recession is tied to growth in the number of nonmetro residents living in poverty. In 2009, the nonmetro unemployment rate was 9.0 percent, which represents a 3.4-point increase from 2008. This is the largest annual increase in unemployment in more than 35 years. The percent of the population living in nonmetro areas that were poor in 2009 was 16.6 percent, compared with 15.1 percent in 2008. This is the most significant year-to-year increase in nonmetro poverty since the early 1980s recession.